Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Called the Surge

Gee, how did we miss this one in our list of recommended Sunday reads? Oh, that's right, we try to avoid the Sunday New York Times, lest we spoil a perfectly good weekend.

Still, the Grey Lady was worth a glance today, for Dexter Pilkins' report from Baghdad. He recently returned to Iraq for the first time since 2006. Mr. Pilkins, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is stunned by the transformation.

When I left Iraq in the summer of 2006, after living three and a half years here following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, I believed that evil had triumphed, and that it would be many years before it might be stopped. Iraq, filled with so many people living so close together, nurturing dark and unknowable grievances, seemed destined for a ghastly unraveling.

And now, in the late summer of 2008, comes the calm. Violence has dropped by as much as 90 percent. A handful of the five million Iraqis who fled their homes — one-sixth of all Iraqis — are beginning to return. The mornings, once punctuated by the sounds of exploding bombs, are still. Is it possible that the rage, the thirst for revenge, the sectarian furies, have begun to fade? That Iraqis have been exhausted and frightened by what they have seen?

The article is also noteworthy for more predictable reasons. Note the (relative) level of credit given to the American troops that defeated the terrorists, and their commander, General David Petraeus.

About what you'd expect from "The Newspaper of Record." No one is suggesting that our soldiers and Marines deserve all the credit for Iraq's remarkable turn-around, but they should get more than a passing mention.
ADDENDUM: In fairness, we should note that Pilkins interviewed General Ray Odierno at length for the article. As Petraeus's deputy during the surge, Odierno played a key role in the success of the surge, but the list of heroes extends throughout the ranks.

You'd think that Mr. Pilkins, who knows many of the key players in Iraq, would have talked to at least one brigade or battalion commander, and their senior NCOs. When the definitive history of the surge is finally written, it will tell remarkable stories of leadership, heroism and improvisation by battalion, company and platoon commanders, and the remarkable troops who served under them.

H/T: Allahpundit at Hot Air.

1 comment:

Maggie Goff said...

His name is Filkins, not Pilkins...and he's actually one of the good guys. Hugh Hewitt interviewed him last week and it was totally fascinating. He has a deep respect, and actual ...for want of a better word...affection for our military and their families. It really comes through. I'll be getting his new book delivered from Amazon today.